A must-read for fans of a blossoming hero.

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THE LOST CARNIVAL

A DICK GRAYSON GRAPHIC NOVEL

Welcome, one and all, to the marvelous Haly’s Circus, home of the dazzling Flying Graysons!

Summer’s arrived for young Dick Grayson, who feels trapped performing alongside his mother and father as part of Haly’s legendary act. Dwindling attendance numbers, however, offer much to worry about. Haly’s fortunes take a turn for the worse when a competing carnival sets up nearby. Crowds flock over to the Lost Carnival, a world “of unexplainable delights, and unfathomable dangers.” Dick quickly falls hard for the magical Luciana, a girl with a tragic, mysterious past, and the smitten pair soon embark on a summer romance destined for heartache. As tensions flare up between the circus and carnival, Dick notices something off about the otherworldly carnival. When his best friend, Willow, falls prey to a powerful spell, Dick must unearth the truth. In this brooding coming-of-age tale, Moreci’s portrait of Dick from the early days before he met Batman gives prominence to his relationship with his parents and, by extension, his life at Haly’s and the independence he craves. Though Luciana exists more as Dick’s dream girl than a fully fledged character, their professed hopes and doubts prove to be startlingly moving. The moody artwork—awash in glum blues for Dick and golden yellows for Luciana—nicely reinforces the tale’s themes. Both Luciana and Willow are girls of color in an almost entirely white cast.

A must-read for fans of a blossoming hero. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4012-9102-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A refreshingly disability-positive superhero origin story.

THE ORACLE CODE

Nijkamp (contributor: His Hideous Heart, 2019, etc.) reimagines the backstory of Oracle, computer genius and ally to Batman.

When skilled hacker Barbara “Babs” Gordon and her best friend, Benjamin, attempt to intervene in a robbery, Babs is shot. Six weeks later, the newly paralyzed Babs reluctantly rolls into the Arkham Center for Independence, where teens with disabilities undergo physical and emotional rehabilitation. Despite her father’s well-meaning advice, Babs resents being there. Even the mysterious cries within the mansion’s walls can’t lift the teen’s despondence—until Jena, a burn survivor full of haunting tales, disappears. Aided by supportive patients Yeong and Issy, whom she gradually befriends, Babs must accept her new reality in order to find Jena and escape a sinister plot. The author sensitively portrays Babs’ frustration and trauma and realistically addresses her challenges, such as mastering wheelchair ramps and negotiating stairs. Babs’ increasing self-confidence is heartening, and the message that people with disabilities don’t need to be “fixed” in order to thrive is empowering (albeit slightly heavy-handed). Balancing bright and dark colors, Preitano’s (contributor: Puerto Rico Strong, 2018, etc.) illustrations vividly convey Babs’ anger and determination, and a jigsaw-puzzle motif reflects Babs’ quest to piece together her new identity as well as the institution’s secret. Most characters present white. Yeong, who walks with forearm crutches, is cued through her name as Korean; Issy, who uses a wheelchair, presents black.

A refreshingly disability-positive superhero origin story. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4012-9066-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Grossly fabulous.

THE INVISIBLE WAR

A WORLD WAR I TALE ON TWO SCALES

A nurse’s gastrointestinal battle with dysentery is paired with the horrors of World War I trench warfare in this graphic novel.

It is 1916, and Annie, a white Australian nurse stationed in France, is tending to the wounded who come pouring in from the Western Front. But another fight, unbeknownst to her, is going on in her gastrointestinal tract. A wounded man she treats has bloody diarrhea that turns out to be dysentery. Annie is accidentally contaminated with the bacteria. How she gets infected is rather gross—but that’s this story’s strength. Blood, mucous, diarrhea, amputated limbs, death—it’s all here, presented in a frank way. While Annie’s story is fictional, the events of the war and the biology presented are fact, detailed further in extensive backmatter. The black-and-white illustrations tell it like it is—when Annie has diarrhea, she is shown sitting on the toilet. But it is the panels and storyline about the microbes that highlight both the illustrator’s and authors’ skills. The battle between the Shigella (dysentery-causing) bacteria and the many kinds of viruses, bacteroides, prevotella, and other microorganisms that Annie’s body activates to defend itself has the tension of an epic battle, and readers will alternately be gripped with anxiety (will the good microbes win?), filled with wonder at the amazing defenses of the human body, and grossed out (talking about you, mucous.)

Grossly fabulous. (map, historical and scientific information) (Graphic science/historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4155-9

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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